While some designers (well, I specifically think about the two that landed in every industry news headline last week) fail to understand and respect other cultures than theirs, Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli doesn’t have that problem. His pre-fall 2018 collection for both, women and men, was presented in Tokyo a few days ago and it was far, far away from getting trapped in stereotypical thinking. The first dozen of looks was a punch of red: parkas, furs, florals, duvet jackets, sheer frocks, shirts, loosely fitted pants, everything in red. The next 30 or 40 looks were mostly black or white, with a few pastel exceptions. The closing looks – made for the red carpet – were all about red, again. But we’re speaking of Valentino red, which is a deep and absorbing shade. Lots and lots of tulle and silk was used for each of these evening gowns. And they did look exquisite, couture-level. Shortly, it seemed to be a regular Valentino collection that could be equally presented in Paris, New York or Rome. That was Piccioli’s goal: to show that today’s Valentino is an international brand, suited for women and men from very different destinations. Still, there were some Japan-related hints behind the collection. They were subtle and well-balanced. Piccioli is drawn to the Japanese art of kintsugi, of repairing the cracks of broken porcelain with a molten gold effect that adds new layers of beauty, “so the most broken pieces become the most precious—the opposite to Western culture. Time adds something to beauty.” Did he mean the ever-changing codes of Valentino? Or maybe that was a light metaphor for the art of autumn layering the designer mastered so well this season? Pierpaolo was also moved by this one aspect of Japanese culture that is extremely alive especially today – specifically “the symbolic act of dressing up. People in the street dress like a ceremony, like a ritual”. Other than Moncler, the designer did two more special collaborations this season – both with Japanese visionaries of their own crafts. Renaissance art appeared in the purses produced in collaboration with Undercover’s Jun Takahashi, which will only be sold in Valentino’s Tokyo flagship store. The playfully surreal self-portraiture of the 21-year-old artist Izumi Miyazaki appeared on loose dresses and parkas – it certainly brought more vigour to the line-up. It’s not the first time when I say this: Valentino blooms with Pierpaolo in charge of it.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.